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Doug Hamand Leads Cumulus Programming With Radio Wisdom Learned From Several Cross Country Stops

“Radio is a small, small world. Everybody knows everybody. You’ve got to be careful. Don’t be a crappy person, don’t blow your chest out when you’re doing well.”

Jim Cryns

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Doug Hamand is a man who likes to plant roots. Early in a radio career, you’re required to move around more than an Amazon worker in a warehouse. You just don’t have the luxury to call your own shot. As you progress in your career, you make choices that better suit a family.

Hamand is currently Vice President of Programming Operations for Cumulus in Atlanta, and has held that position for seven years. Before that, he held a similar position with iHeart in Tampa for more than 21 years.

The cool thing for Hamand about the switch from Tampa to Atlanta, among other things, was the wonderful fact didn’t have to physically move.

“I was asked when I interviewed for the Atlanta job how important it was for me to stay in Tampa,” Hamand said. “I told them it was very important. We’d been here a long time and didn’t want to start over. It’s also more expensive to live in Atlanta, and you can’t replace this winter weather with anything better.”

Doing a job from a distance isn’t as hard as it once was. “During the pandemic, we closed a lot of the offices,” Hamand said. “We’re on Zoom and video meetings all the time. Everything I need to do I can do from here. I don’t get the interruptions like I used to. I don’t get people sticking their heads in the doorway wanting to talk.”

That doesn’t mean Hamand didn’t welcome and enjoy helping people, he did and still does. But without being physically in the same office with 100 people, it makes it easier for him to attend to the nuts and bolts of his job, the revenue and ratings part, without interruption.

The way people have meetings all day via the web has changed that aspect of his career, Hamand said the way talent searches for a position has changed as well. The days of the manila envelope containing a typed resume and a cassette air-check are over.

“Today, they’ll send me an mp3, or a link to their website,” Hamand said. “I can immediately hear whether they’ve polished their craft. They can send a good resume and a solid cover letter by email, but I’ll know in the first 30 seconds of listening to their demo if it is right for me.”

How does he know? Hamand said he judges a candidate by tempo, how they deal with the listener one-on-one. The uniqueness of their delivery is considered. Hamand looks to see if they’re creative, and if they’re funny out of the gate.

“Its’ all those things,” Hamand explained. “Sometimes they may not be exactly as they presented themselves. When I get down to the final three applicants, I’ll have them send me three unedited shows. I can judge who they are by that point. A true feeling.”

We discussed big stations flipping formats and what that might mean in Atlanta.

“I can’t speak to some markets but nothing like that is happening here,” Hamand said. “I’ll tell you what scares the heck out of me. By 2023, Ford F150 trucks will no longer have the opportunity for owners to listen to AM radio.”

Some people are concerned the removal of AM radio presents a safety risk to the public.

Pete Gaynor, the former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said AM stations play a “particularly vital role” in the National Public Warning System “as many AM signals can be received at great distances, which is critical when disasters impact entire regions.”

Granted, a lot of our big news/talk people are on HD2, but we have to teach listeners what that means.

“A lot of television stations had the right idea when they just shut analog off and forced people to go digital,” Hamand explained. “I don’t know if radio can pull that off. You’re converting an entire audience. Have we done a good job as an industry with this? Not really.”

Born in Emmetsburg, Iowa, Hamand said he listened to a lot of radio, like CKLW out of Canada after the family moved to Detroit. “It was just over the border. Big 8 was a top 40 station.  He listened to a bit of Howard Stern as a kid on WWWW-FM.

The family moved to Canon City, near Denver.

“My stepfather had family in Colorado,” Hamand explained. “Canon City was a small town, but it was a lot of fun. In junior high school I took theater and speech classes.”

Hamand said there was a jock at the local KRLN who invited him in for a tour. That changed everything for him.

“It was weird, shag carpeting over the walls. A quarter was on one of the needles so it wouldn’t pop up. It wasn’t really what I was expecting, not nearly as cool as I thought it would be when you’re listening on the radio.”

Aesthetics aside, Hamand was hooked. He became friends with the DJ and started going to the station during his junior year during his first hour.

“It was just up the street,” Hamand said. “He let me hang out and watch, learn as much as I could. I would play carts, set up records.”

Finally, the big break.

“I got to out-tro ‘Sister Golden’ Hair by America. My stomach was in knots but it was amazing.” Hamand started filling in for some air shifts during his senior year. After graduation, while also working part-time at an auto store, he worked some more fill-in shifts. I knew this was going to be my thing. I started working at 96 Rock in Colorado Springs under a program director named Chuck Finney. He was having a meeting and I overheard him talking about ratings. I was just in there looking for carts and stuff.”

Hamand was curious and joined the conversation.

“I asked him what a ‘cume’ was,” Hamand said. “Chuck took the time to explain the ratings system to me. I always thought that it was nice of him to take the time to do that, describe the ratings aspects to me.”

He worked for a while in Vail, then it was back to Lakewood/Denver, Colorado and a startup station, KQKS where Hamand did nights.

“I enjoyed six amazing years there,” Hamand explained. “We were a real ratings success. In those days I’d earn more doing radio appearances at venues than I’d make on the air in salary.”

Hamand still gives students a tour of radio stations when time permits. He considers it paying back.

“That’s how I got started, a tour of a radio station,” he said. “It was a pivotal moment for me. When radio stations have glass around the studios and people can watch the talent do their stuff, that’s a lot of fun. That’s entertainment. It can be a worm and hook for a young person to get into the business.”

From Lakewood it was on to West Virginia and a morning show in Charleston. Hamand said it was all good fun, but it was still a job.

“Here I was with my first daughter in kindergarten and I was getting up before 4am to do a show,” Hamand said “Then I’d get home around 8pm, and do it all over again. You don’t think of it, you just do. There’s a fire burning in you and you do what you need to. You do pay a price.”

Then it was off to Lexington, Kentucky.

“I thought I knew everything by this point,” Hamand said. “I had the proverbial playbook memorized. But that was when things changed. I realized I was a better coach than I was on the air. I think I had good vision. I put the Ben & Brian show together back in the day.”

Hamand explained how Ben and Brian were working at two separate radio stations in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“I knew if I could get these guys together, they’d be great,” Hamand said. “I talked with each of them and they agreed to meet with me. I put them together in a hotel room with a white board. I told them when I came back after the weekend, if one of them were dead, we would know they wouldn’t have been able to work together.”

They got along famously, and their career together took off. He struck gold again with Bandy and Bailey, another successful morning duo. What does he look for when mining for a new show?

“I listen for comedic value and timing when considering talent,” Hamand said. “I see if they can find the ‘out’ to a segment. It’s easy to get ‘in,’ but I need to hear the middle as well. There’s a real story arc. Of course the chemistry has to be there.”

Hamand said a PD can’t be afraid to dump something if it’s not working. And they don’t hesitate. They can’t afford to.

“I had one show recently where it just wasn’t working. They weren’t talking off the air and it was blatantly obvious it wasn’t cordial on the air. The show was horrible.”

Hamand said a new team may get 90 to 100 days to improve, but there’s no time to let a horse with a broken leg continue on. You have to put it out of its figurative misery. There comes a time when you have to punt and absorb your losses.

Everybody knows getting canned is part of the radio business. Many station owners and management won’t allow their talent to say goodbye to their audiences, like the recent explosion of KGO in San Francisco. The management didn’t let any of their talent sign off. Hamand said that decision for him is made on a case-by-case basis.

“If I trust them, I’ll let them say goodbye,” Hamand said. “Radio is a small, small world. Everybody knows everybody. You’ve got to be careful. Don’t be a crappy person, don’t blow your chest out when you’re doing well.”

Hamand said overseeing talk, music and sports requires different techniques. Each has their own challenges.

“I always say if you’re brilliant in basics you’ll win,” Hamand said.

When he looks for a talent, he goes primarily for the personality. “I do like the loud guys, but when they start to scream, that doesn’t work for me,’ he explained. “I also like some low-key shows. It isn’t a one size fits all thing. Here in Tampa, there is one person that screams at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all the time. I’m thinking, they are not listening, it’s just me. Tone it back.”

There’s no question listeners are changing how they ingest their content, it’s morphing daily.

“We still rule the car,” Hamand said. “It’s like the situation with the Ford truck. A listener doesn’t feel the need to figure all that out, they just know they want what they want at that moment.”

“We need to find a way to fuse it all together,” Hamand explained. “It’s all a tender balance.”

When working with his on-air people, Hamand said they need to hit core topics every 10 or 15 minutes to stay fresh for the listener. He’s not a believer in long teasing.

“If you’re going to tease information, make it realistic. Don’t make the tease last three hours. I had a situation with a morning guy who would wait two hours to pull a trigger. You can’t do that, just pay off the damn tease.”

BNM Writers

Dagen McDowell Is Ready For A New Adventure With Fox Business

“Every decision in America is born of policy, On the show, we bring that to our show. Talk about the news of the day.”

Jim Cryns

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To know Dagen McDowell, you must understand what she comes from, where she comes from. You won’t know her until you know the lessons, kindness, and determination set forth by her parents.

Her parents operated a small grocery store, LW Roark and Company. Charles and Joyce McDowell were high school sweethearts and both went to college but decided to go back home and open a business. “This is in the middle of nowhere,” McDowell said. “It was a wholesale grocery store. They sold it in the late 90s.”

She said her parents were smart, encouraging, and took every opportunity to teach McDowell and her brother.

“They’d constantly talk up people who came into the store. Both of them have and had an insatiable curiosity about everything. They felt they learned things through their customers. It was more fun to learn about things from other people.”

McDowell’s parents never took a week off work. Never. The family took no vacations as most families would. Once while McDowell was in college at Wake Forest University, the family visited the Air and Space Museum on the Mall in D.C.

“Both of my parents were very interested in architecture and landscapes. We’d go to Williamsburg and just look at the buildings.”

McDowell joined FOX News Channel in 2003 and helped launch FOX Business Network as a founding anchor in 2007.

Her mother passed away three years ago and her father is still very much a part of her life. Her father was a constant teacher.

“One time my father, who we called Dowell McDowell, was putting up an outbuilding and asked me how long one line should be if the other line was such and such. He taught me the Pythagorean theorem when I was about 4 years old.”

McDowell was nurtured by parents with endless curiosity.

“I was raised by parents who would always debate and converse around the dinner table. We shared breakfast and dinner together every day. They loved learning, were always inquisitive, never afraid to ask a question. My parents shared a fearlessness and passed that on to me. I’ve never been embarrassed to ask people questions. I love talking to people and finding out about things.”

For a long time, McDowell had no idea what she wanted to do for a living. She knew if she worked at different jobs she’d eventually figure out what she was good at.

“I knew I was a decent writer, but I always tried to get information out of people, what they were doing. Ask if they were fulfilled and happy.”

At Wake, Forest McDowell majored in art history and had every intention of working in a museum, possibly as a curator.

“I interned at the Center for Contemporary Arts. I lived in Venice, Italy for a while. Wake Forest owns a house in Venice.”

After that it was Colorado. She moved back to New York during the recession of 1991 with a duffel bag. She took the Amtrak to New York City and sublet an apartment for six months.

“I had no TV, just a radio. I knew I could find something good to do in New York, there were so many jobs. I always wanted to live in the city. Either the city or way out in the country. Nowhere in between.”

She said being in New York made her feel anything was possible. This was January in 1994 when job ads were still in the physical newspaper, like the New York Times. McDowell interviewed at Institutional Investor through a referral from a friend.

“It was a brilliant magazine with terrific writing,” McDowell explained. “Very prominent in the industry. They were looking for someone to work with the newsletter written for the financial community.”

She’d cover topics like the bond business, Wall Street, and money management. The magazine made her take a reporting test where you’d make up a story and write it. She was offered a job and worked there for three years.

“I learned to be a journalist there,” McDowell said. “I could write but I became a better journalist. We’d break news, create our sources, and learn more and more about finance. People love to talk about what they do if you show interest.”

The next big job was SmartMoney.com, a resource and web newspaper for private investors. There McDowell wrote a personal finance column. She started doing commentary on television shows, the way a lot of people in different professions tend to do. “Then I started making more appearances on weekend financial or business shows,” McDowell said.

She got a call from Neil Cavuto about 20 years ago and he told McDowell, ‘Kid, you want a job? I know you don’t have much professional TV experience. We’ll give you some training and you’ll figure it out. If you do, you stay. If not, you go.’

McDowell said she was glad she was a writer first before she arrived at Fox. She writes her own scripts and has a background in finance and business writing.

“Before the business network was launched, they had only one business reporter and two senior business correspondents,” she said. “I’ve gotten to do so many different jobs, use different muscles, so to speak. As the years have passed I’ve discovered other talents I may have and I’m incredibly grateful for that.”

There’s a new show in town. McDowell and Sean Duffy will co-host The Bottom Line which will air on weeknights from 6-7:00 PM ET.

McDowell said she and Duffy come from extremely similar backgrounds. Duffy is from rural Wisconsin and McDowell is from Virginia.

“We know what small-town living is like, “McDowell said. “I might live in New York City but where I grew up affects the way I view the world. I’m still grounded in my hometown. On the show, we look south and west with everything we cover. You have to think of your audience. Rather than talking about them, we talk with them. That’s our shared background and vision. Sean is extremely down to earth and generous.”

McDowell said the show is not financially based, but steeped in business.

She said Duffy’s experience as a former U.S. Congressman, he understands policy as well as financial matters.

“Every decision in America is born of policy,” she said. “On the show, we bring that to our show. Talk about the news of the day.”

This is different from anything McDowell has done in the past.

“It’s a two-anchor show in the evening,” she explained. “This is not taking place during market hours. We tie all the business happenings together from the day. Again, it’s not about Washington or New York. It’s about the people we grew up with. We talk to them. Build a relationship with them on the air. For me, this is not just sitting in front of a camera. I can run off at the mouth as well as anyone, hang in there with the filibuster.”

McDowell says she is blunt, but hopes she isn’t rude. During a recent interview for the new show she used the terms ‘pig potatoes’ and ‘chapped backsides.’

“Those are terms I just made up,” she said. “I make up a lot of phrases and don’t always know what they mean. I have an entire repertoire of those kinds of phrases.”

Duffy assumed they were southern phrases he had to learn from McDowell, but she assured him she’d never heard them anywhere else.

“I’m just making stuff up,” McDowell said. “You can’t curse. Can’t say BS. At least you shouldn’t say BS on television. You don’t want to say manure. You never want to say something that makes people wince or evokes a smell.”

Dealing with people directly and bluntly seems to come from her mother.

“My mother had grit,” McDowell said. “She was also very kind, never syrupy. I used to say she had no magnolia-mouth.

That’s got to be a southern phrase.

McDowell said her mother was not a servile flatterer, but she was kind. Always there when somebody was in need.

“She had real grit. She’d stand and fight for her friends and family members.”

Her mother passed away after being diagnosed with stage-four cancer.

“She went through unimaginable pain,” McDowell said of her mother. “For nearly six years. You want to talk about somebody who was tough. There was nobody more pugnacious than my mother.”

She explained even with her illness, her mother was always on the go. Continuing to live her life. When questioned about being so active while she was ill, her mother continued to show grit.

“My mother would say she didn’t want to walk around looking like she had cancer. She asked, ‘What choice do I have? I could lay in bed and wait to die, or I can get up and do what I can .’”

McDowell said her mother’s illness taught her to be a caregiver in ways she never could have imagined. Her mother taught her to find moments of joy every single day, in the smallest of things.

“It can be as simple as telling a stranger to have a great day. Treat a perfect stranger with kindness. I do it all day long. I know it sounds corny, but I want to be known as a person who brings a casserole to a friend when they’re ill.”

A one-sheet from Fox tells you McDowell and the culmination of her background is perfect for The Bottom Line. The fact is, it’s true.

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BNM Writers

Airing The Tyre Nichols Video Was A Necessity

There were hard moments to watch in those videos, hard sounds to hear. But they aired.

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Far be it for me not to address this outrageous and embarrassing instance in humanity. After the videos of Memphis police brutally beating Tyre Nichols were shown on television there really seemed to be more outrage emerging from society this time than from the media, for a change. One would think that’s how we wish things to be.

In instances like this, where the video and audio images are far from brief but are instead chaptered as they unfold, there are few options other than to let them run their course. Clocks — breaks hard and soft — are out the window, just as in live coverage.

Because that’s what this was, only the live this time was us, and as we all absorbed and reacted to actions disapprovingly familiar yet somehow foreign at the same time, the impact was still becoming apparent even though we already knew the outcome.

It’s happened before.

Not always like this but we’ve seen it before, police encounters shown on the news overtakes and become the news.

It takes effect as the sights and sounds are digested, dissected, and discussed, often before their potential impact could really be imagined.

In 1991, when the Handycam footage crossed screens for the first time and we learned Rodney King’s name, we didn’t know then but we had a feeling.

We were on the right track, though as newsrooms evolved and street reporting incorporated a different type of storytelling.

I was a cop in 1991. Changes came. Some.

It’s 2023, I’m no longer a cop. Changes will come again. Some.

Turning points — or the overused watershed moments — mean just as much to the news media as they do to law enforcement.

The “why’s” that make this a turning point are more society and community based this time around than they were in 1991.

At least I think so. And I don’t think it makes a bit of difference who’s involved this time.

There were hard moments to watch in those videos, and hard sounds to hear. But they aired. Where they couldn’t air, they were described in great detail; descriptions sometimes can be worse than the real thing. Sometimes, not this time.

And they should air, they shouldn’t stop airing. This is what happened and this is what people need to see and hear and this is exactly why we are here.

Warn them, provide them with a heads up that they’re not going to like what happens next. It’s life and we show life, and we show what some of us do with it when it’s someone else’s.

Overall, I would say the news platforms held their composure, even after the videos were released. I saw, read, and heard some refreshingly neutral coverage, even from outlets where I expected hard turns into the lanes on either side of the road.

Legitimate questions were asked by anchors and reporters and much of the time, the off-balance issues were raised more by those on the sidewalks and those on the other side of the cameras and microphones.

As much as I find myself in disagreement with what I often see on the cable networks — all the cable networks — I did find a sense of symmetry watching CNN’s Don Lemon speak with Memphis City Council Chair Martavius Jones in the hours after the videos were released.

Regular protocols be damned, Lemon and producers lingered patiently as Jones, visibly overcome by emotion, struggled to regain breath and composure enough to be able to speak. Rather than cut away or move to other elements, they stood fast and it became an example of what often requires no words.

There were fewer punches pulled on other platforms as well.

The sounds of the screams, the impacts, and the hate-filled commands were broadcast through car radios.

As were Tyre Nichol’s calls for his mom. They aired. They had to.

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BNM Writers

Does the Republican Establishment Get It?

For many it seemed that the Republican establishment stood idly by as Democrats changed the rules and worked behind the scenes to alter elections.

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In a move that seemed to go against the wishes of the patriotic American grassroots, the Republican party on Friday re-elected RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel. 

The media immediately took notice, as many on television and radio are now wondering why the party would re-elect a chairperson who has been so unpopular with the base of its party. 

Grant Stinchfield discussed this issue Friday night on his program, Stinchfield Tonight, which airs on Real America’s Voice network.

“Ronna McDaniel holds on to her chairmanship of the Republican Party. By a whopping total of — what were the numbers– 111 to 54. Harmeet Dhillon only received 54 votes. Mike Lindell 4 votes. This is proof to me that the Republican establishment is dug in,” Stinchfield — formerly of Newsmax — said. “Don’t tell me they’re out of touch. See, you tell me they’re out of touch, that implies ignorance. They’re not ignorant about anything.”

As sentiment for Dhillon grew in the days leading up to Friday’s vote, many influential politicians and party donors publicly offered her their support and endorsement. These included Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), as well as donors Mike Rydin, Dick Uihlein, and Bernie Marcus.

Also on board were musician and outspoken conservative John Rich, along with the state GOP of Nebraska and Washington State. Countless journalists and media personalities, such as Charlie Kirk, Miranda Divine, and Lou Dobbs, also came out publicly in support of Dhillon. Former President Donald Trump remained neutral, not making a public choice of either of the three candidates.

For many of Dhillon’s supporters, the deciding factor was public sentiment across the party’s base.

“They’re reading the same chat boards. They’re getting the same emails I’m reading. I will literally post something about this race when I was supporting Harmeet Dhillon. There was not one comment – not one – that supported Ronna McDaniel. Everyone wanted change,” Stinchfield said, noting that the party elite saw the same groundswell of support for change.

“Now, nobody has an issue as Ronna McDaniel is some evil kind of person. I don’t believe she is. I believe, though, that she is part of the establishment. She’s been around too long as far as the establishment goes. And she’s been ingrained in doing business as usual. It’s not working.”

In making their choices known, many Dhillon supporters simply pointed to the scoreboard during McDaniel’s reign.

“Think about where we are. 2018, we lost the House. 2020, we lost everything. 2022, we won the House, but we should have really steamrolled the House and we should have taken back the Senate, which we didn’t do,” Stinchfield said. “That means we’re on a real losing track since she took over. I don’t like being on a losing track. I like being on a winning track.

“Something has got to change when you talk about all of this. So how does Ronna McDaniel get 111 votes and Harmeet Dhillon only get 54 votes, when everyone, every Republican voter I talk to said it was time for change?” pondered Stinchfield.

And even more than the losses, for many it seemed that the Republican establishment stood idly by as Democrats changed the rules and worked behind the scenes to alter elections. The most recent example of which came in Arizona, where presumptive gubernatorial favorite, Kari Lake, was “defeated” when countless voting irregularities occurred in some of the state’s most deep-red areas.

“Under her watch, Democrats instituted a mail-in ballot scheme. That may be even worse than losing, when you talk about the House and the Senate and all these things. The fact that we now have a junk mail-in ballot scheme across the country under Ronna McDaniel’s watch is serious trouble. Very serious trouble,” Stinchfield said on Friday. “And so the reason it is is because the Democrats are rigging the system.”

For years – until Donald Trump descended the golden escalator and took the world by storm – the Republican party had the reputation of being the party of the rich. Rush Limbaugh used to refer to this wing of Republicans as “the country club crowd.” President Donald Trump flipped the narrative completely, offering a clear vision of hope and patriotism to working-class America.

Reputable polling — such as Richard Baris’ Big Data Poll — consistently showed Trump running well ahead of almost every Republican candidate during the 2022 mid-term election cycle. In other words, Trump still maintains considerably more support across the country than most of the individual Senate or House candidates experienced.

Many experts believe this is because voters still view Trump as an outsider, while they view the Republican party much less favorably.

“Let’s tell you how out of touch they are, how elitist they are,” Stinchfield said, calling out the GOP establishment. “This meeting that went on, do you know where it is? It’s at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch in California. One of the most expensive resorts in America. You’re lucky if you get a room for a thousand dollars a night down there on Dana Point. Now, it’s a beautiful hotel, but why is the Republican Party holding an event there? Then I went back and I looked at what RedState did. RedState went back and looked at some of the expenses that the Republican Party under Ronna McDaniel’s leadership was spending money on.

“Take a look at this. $3.1 million on private jets. $1.3 million on limousine and chauffeur services. $17.1 million on donor mementos. $750,000 on floral arrangements. Now you compare this to the Democrats. The Democrats spent $35,000 on private airfare. A thousand dollars on floral arrangements. A thousand. Not $750,000. A thousand. And the $17.1 million they spent on donor mementos, the Democrats spent $1.5 million.

“Democrats know where to put the money. It’s not giving donors gifts. Donors shouldn’t want gifts. If you give money, give money. You don’t need the fancy pin to put on your lapel.”

Following her loss, Dhillon warned her party that it must listen to the base, saying, “if we ignore this message, I think it’s at our peril. It’s at our peril personally, as party leaders and it’s at our peril for our party in general.”

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